They left the plough, the shop, the office stool
To fight a cause, to wield a lethal tool:
They left their homes and all that they held dear,
To face a grim unknown with little fear.
Ah those men! Those hallowed men – that faced a foe,
Who strained to crush them dealing blow on blow
With shot, with shell, with belching tank with flame,
They faced it all – to win a deathless name.
‘Men of Arnhem’ Freedom doth proclaim you
As her immortal sons – her precious few:
Your mem’ry e’er will live for you have shown
The way for this sad world to reach her own.
I know little about this poem, except that it was written by Ray Vickers and comes from a booklet of his poetry entitled Wood Chippings, published in 1945 by the publishers Cornish Brothers Ltd of Birmingham.
Such details are recorded at, and a copy of the booklet held in, the British Library.
At present I can find no other information about the poet or his work – from other poems in the booklet I would guess that he came from, or at least resided in, the Northamptonshire area. Can anyone offer any further information?
I am including the poem here because I believe it does offer some insight into the prevailing spirit of the times and a contemporary response to the defeat at Arnhem.